Japanese Akita Inu Dog Health And Longevity

The Japanese Akita is a mountain dog from the spitz grouping, and is native to Japan. They are large, powerful dogs that can be prone to dominance, but also make for excellent guard dogs and protectors, as well as personable and loving family companions.

As the Akita has become more and more widely known worldwide, they are becoming ever more popular as pets within the UK, where they are legal to own. However, in various other countries, the breed is subject to some restrictions as part of dangerous dog legislation, and as a dog that is both large and strong, require a confident and experienced owner who is able to manage the breed properly. Despite this, the Akita is also renowned for being gentle and loving with children, protective and loyal with their families, and clean and good natured within the home.

If you are interested in the Akita dog breed and may be considering ownership of one, it is of course vital to do plenty of research before committing to a purchase. With this in mind, it is wise to make yourself aware of some of the breed-specific health issues that the Akita can be prone to, and which can affect the dog’s longevity and quality of life. In this article, we will look at the health and longevity of the Japanese Akita Inu in more detail. Read on to learn more.

Akita longevity

The average lifespan for dogs of the breed is generally around ten years, which is slightly lower than the norm for other breeds of a similar size and weight, with twelve years of age being the general average for dogs of the same sort of size.

Veterinary challenges specific to the Akita dog breed

First of all, it is important for all Akita owners and the vets that treat them to be aware that the breed as a whole is known to have a heightened sensitivity to certain medications, including vaccines, tranquilisers and veterinary drugs. This means that any treatment must be handled extremely carefully, including the administration of standard vaccines, due to the dog’s elevated chances of sensitivity to certain medications.

Various Asian dog breeds including the Akita are prone to a condition called pseudohyperkalaemia, which means a high level of potassium in the blood stream. This means that when performing blood tests, dogs of the breed may return a false positive on lab results for hyperkalaemia.

Autoimmune conditions

There are quite a few autoimmune conditions that are known to be present within the Akita breed pool, but that will not necessarily affect all dogs of the breed. Some of the most common of these are:

  • Autoimmune haemolytic anaemia, which is a disorder of the blood.
  • Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada Syndrome, sometimes called Uveo-Dermatologic Syndrome, which affects the eyes and skin of affected dogs.
  • Pemphigus Foliaceus, which is a skin disorder that is believed to be hereditary in some Akita breed lines.
  • Sebaceous Adenitis, another skin disorder with a hereditary element to it, thought to occur due to the inheritance of an autosomal recessive anomaly.
  • Lupus, or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, which is an autoimmune condition that affects connective tissue in any part of the body.

Immune mediated endocrinal conditions

On top of the various autoimmune conditions that may affect the Akita, there are also various inheritable immune-mediated endocrine conditions that are hereditary and found within the breed as well. These include:

  • Hypoadrenocorticism, or Addison’s disease, which affects the dog’s adrenal glands.
  • Hyperadrenocorticism, or Cushing’s disease, which is the opposite of Addison’s disease, affecting the adrenal glands again, and which is caused by a long-term elevation of the body’s glucocorticosteroid levels.
  • Type one diabetes, the hereditary variant, which is present from birth and affects the pancreas.
  • Hypothyroidism, another autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid gland and causes and underproduction of the necessary thyroid hormones.

Other conditions

Some other conditions that have a potential genetic aspect to them that are seen relatively commonly within the Akita dog breed include:

  • Bloat or GDV (gastric dilation volvulus) which causes a painful and dangerous build-up of gas within the stomach, and ultimately, twisting of the stomach.
  • Glaucoma, a build-up of pressure in the eye, which can lead to blindness if left untreated.
  • Micropthalmia, which simply means “small eyes,” and is a disorder of the developing eyes, leading to pronouncedly small eyes.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy or PRA, an untreatable and progressive degeneration of vision that can lead to blindness.
  • Hip dysplasia, a developmental disorder of the hip joints and bones that can be painful and affect normal movement.
  • Elbow dysplasia, which is again painful and causes lameness, and which can lead to osteoarthritis.
  • Von Willebrands disease, a genetic condition that causes a blood clotting disorder, meaning that even minor bumps and cuts can be potentially serious for the dog.

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